By Raleigh Burleigh
The Board of Town Trustees tackled a full agenda at their Dec. 14 meeting.
During “trustee comments,” Trustee Ben Bohmfalk mentioned that the town’s Bike, Pedestrian & Trails Commission fell short of a quorum at their last meeting. Bohmfalk took the opportunity to encourage community members to join a town board.
Trustee Lani Kitching thanked the police department for allowing officer Paul Lazo to join the Garfield County Latino Community Committee. Kitching also announced that she has joined the Colorado Wildlife Council as a representative for state municipalities.
Mayor Dan Richardson highlighted a new initiative by the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority (RFTA), allocating $3 million toward a new grant program to fund first-and-last-mile solutions, independent of RFTA’s partnership with the bikeshare nonprofit WeCycle.
Planning Director Janet Buck and lab technician Fred Siroteck were both honored for their dedicated work as town staff.
Trustees heard a liquor license application by David Eisenson and Mark Hardin for Plosky’s, “a New York-style Jewish deli coming soon,” explained Eisenson. Located at 1201 Main Street, the new building next to the roundabout, the deli is anticipated to open in March.
“As an East Coast transplant,” said Eisenson, “it’s something that I’ve always felt was missing in Carbondale. And, as much as I love this town, I really love sandwiches. And a really good bagel.”
With no last-minute changes, trustees adopted the 2022 budget. It plans for $11.3 million in general fund expenditures and maintains approximately $7.46 million in reserves (65.9% of the town’s annual operational costs).
According to the packet, sales tax collections, the town’s major revenue source, show an estimated year-over-year increase of 21.6% to finish 2021. This is due in significant part to the new City Market and “permit and associated development fees” for new construction.
Upcoming big expenditures include cyber security upgrades financed by federal COVID relief funds. Major capital projects are a property acquisition to expand the public works yard, improvements to Eighth Street and continued engineering work for a second roundabout on Highway 133.
There will also be grant-funded work along the Crystal River at Riverfront Park, including access for wheelchairs. Additionally, after years of planning and engineering, a micro hydro project with a pump back system will be installed on the Nettle Creek waterline.
In its fifth year of a six-year plan to adjust water usage fees, the town approved a 5% increase in wastewater and potable water service fees.
The complete budget, along with a comprehensive summary, is available in the packet for the Dec. 14 meeting on the town’s website.
Next, trustees heard from Clean Energy Economy for the Region (CLEER), contracted to assist with the town’s climate action plan. In keeping with the International Energy Conservation Code, the town aims for all commercial buildings to be net zero by 2030.
CLEER brought into perspective how efforts by local energy providers Xcel Energy and Holy Cross Energy will de facto advance the town toward its sustainability goals. The greatest hurdle will be eliminating the usage of natural gas.
CLEER is exploring the possibility of establishing an “Ecoblock district,” near the Third Street Center, retrofitting infrastructure in residential buildings to set a precedent.
“This is one heck of a lot of work,” praised Kitching. “Thank you for doing this for us and for the environment, moreso.”
Satank resident Pat Hunter, who had tuned in online to encourage more funding for environmental initiatives, was also impressed. “Tackling buildings is going to be tough,” he admitted, “but it’s something we have to focus on and make happen.”
New pool goes to a vote
The Town’s Parks and Recreation Department, with assistance from consultant Hilltop Securities, presented a plan for financing a new aquatics facility with an annual debt service of $504,000, should voters approve it in the April election.
The facility, with two pools and four lap lanes, is estimated to cost between at least $7 million, likely more. However, this can mostly be financed by the existing half-cent tax that funds the Parks and Recreation Department.
To bridge the gap without a tax increase, Bohmfalk reiterated his suggestion to utilize unallocated nicotine tax revenue. Other suggestions included sponsorships, naming rights, grants and general fundraising.
Last, but not least, Chief Kirk Wilson met with the trustees to discuss community policing. Wilson remains committed to fulfilling the pillars outlined by the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.
Recently, Carbondale Police Department officers catalogued instances of force to develop a new training program.
Resident Richard Vottero had inquired about community policing during the public comment period at the meeting’s start. He was pleased to learn about the proactive measures being taken.
Trustees suggested Chief Wilson reach out to The Sopris Sun with an update, and have it translated into Spanish, too. We welcome it, Chief.